This article argues that regional integration can follow three different developmental paths, depending on the centrality of external economic actors and economic asymmetries in regional trade networks. The first path causes intra-regional interdependence, the second path reinforces dependence on extra-regional actors, and the third path reinforces asymmetries in the region. The article illustrates this argument using diachronic network visualization of trade networks in three world regions. The European Union (EU) corresponds to the first path, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to the second and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to the third. The theoretical argument and empirical analysis in the article demonstrate how regional organizations get locked into these developmental paths, and how regional integration reinforces rather than changes existing economic structures.